CW: Talk of fat loss, calories, and scale weight
At the start of this interview, (4 min) Ruby Cherie contextualizes her advice in her own transition from bodybuilding to powerlifting, and she makes a really great point about how transitioning from activities that become our identities requires finding new identities.
I think it’s important to recognize what our lifting identities are and how they impact us in myriad ways. We need to be honest with ourselves about to what degree these identities are useful and to what degree they are encouraging harmful patterns in our lives. I like to think of myself as a “recreational bodybuilder,” and I am watching myself to make sure I’m keeping a healthy perspective on those pursuits. I know that aiming for the stage would not teach me healthy patterns. I’m not interested in dieting down. But giving myself that label can help me push through a particularly long set, too. There are plusses and minuses to that identity for me, and I would love to hear a longer discussion about it!
Eight minutes into the interview, Ruby encourages folks to take time away from weight goals and focus on our health and performance, and we begin the “meat” of the conversation. Unfortunately, around 14 minutes in, the interview becomes uncomfortable for me. I don’t love that a conversation labeled about focusing on health first has become about fat loss. I think I understand what Ruby and Jason are talking about–that focusing on health can help us eventually lose body fat, if we want to, but I guess I’m concerned that there aren’t more measurements of progress discussed. I’m disappointed that 30 min. in, the conversation is still talking calories.
I’m also noticing the role of privilege in this conversation. As it turns towards reducing stress and improving immune function, for example, it assumes a fairly high level of personal control over these factors. I don’t disagree with the essence of what Ruby says–stress management, sleep, and other lifestyle factors influence our health and our abilities to develop a healthier body composition–but I’d love to hear an acknowledgement that there are times in our lives and personal circumstances that limit the degree to which we can change these factors.
So, I don’t disagree with what Ruby says, but I disagree with labeling this conversation as explaining a “health first” approach. I’d love to see more non-weight and non-calorie metrics of success. I’d like weight to be decoupled from health a bit more–I don’t dismiss the correlations between higher levels of body fat and certain health conditions, but it’s nuanced, and weight is only one measurement, and it’s a deeply imprecise one.
Finally around 34 minutes in, Ruby gives some specific examples of health we could focus upon–assertiveness, performance at the gym, and quality of living. Jason really ties it back to the theme at the end, and I appreciate his practical experience and advice. I’m hoping that this episode will provide us with context for a more nuanced conversation moving forward.
Did you give this podcast a listen? How do you define “health first” and what kinds of progress measurements do you look for that have nothing to do with weight or body composition? Please keep in mind, we do have a comment policy.